translated from the chinese by
2 - Skilllful Means
AT THAT TIME the World-Honored One rose calmly from concentration and said to Shariputra: "The wisdom of buddhas is both profound and immeasurable, and the gateways to this wisdom are hard to understand and hard to enter. No shravaka or pratyekabuddha can apprehend it.
"Why is this? It is because every buddha has been closely associated with hundreds of thousands of billions of buddhas in the past, fully practicing the way of the immeasurable Dharma of all the buddhas. Boldly and diligently working, they have become famous everywhere, fulfilling the very profound, unprecedented Dharma and teaching it wherever opportunities arose. Yet their intention is difficult to grasp.
"Shariputra, the insight of the Tathagata is broad and great, profound and far-reaching, immeasurable and unobstructed. His powers, his courage, his meditation, his liberation, and his concentration have enabled him to enter into the boundless and to fulfill the unprecedented Dharma.
"By making a variety of distinctions, Shariputra, the Tathagata is able to teach with great skill, cheering the hearts of all with gentle words.
"But this is enough Shariputra. No more needs to be said. Why? Because what the Buddha has achieved is most rare and difficult to understand. Only among buddhas can the true character of all things be fathomed. This is because every existing thing has such characteristics, such a nature, such an embodiment, such powers, such actions, such causes, such conditions, such effects, such rewards and retributions, and yet such a complete fundamental coherence." (2)
Note 2. Sometimes referred to as the "ten suchnesses" or "ten reality aspects", this passage does not appear in any existing Sanskrit versions of the Lotus Sutra. Each of the first nine items are rendered in Chinese with three characters, beginning in each case with XXX. In Tiantai interpretation, this three-part structure is important, as it is assimilated to the understanding of conventional existence, emptiness, and the middle way. This has led some to believe that the term should be rendered in English as "such-like", a term that, so far as I can tell, makes no sense in English. The text itself, apart from Tiantai interpretation, seems to indicate only that any thing that exists has some kind of characteristics, some kind of nature, and so on. In this translation, "such a" has been used in deference to the common practice of referring to the "ten suchnesses."